Homozygous grey Karakul lambs are born with a lethal genetic factor responsible for death at weaning age. When put on a high roughage diet under field conditions they develop distended, thinwalled rumens and sand impacted abomasa. Homozygous white Karakul lambs have a similar factor but survive for a longer period. Black Karakul lambs are not affected. The present study was undertaken to compare by image analysis the thickness of the tunica muscularis of the forestomach and abomasum of 24-hour old grey, white and black Karakul lambs. One square centimetre samples were taken from equivalent areas in each case of the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum of 38 embalmed
Karakul lambs. Haematoxylin and eosin stained histological sections of each sample were studied with a Vids 2 Image Analyzer and the thickness of the circular and longitudinal muscle layers was measured.
An analysis of variance indicated a significant difference between the groups in the thickness of the tunica muscularis of the rumen, reticulum and abomasum; the grey group displaying the thinnest and the black group the thickest. The omasa were not affected. The study indicates a reduction in thickness of the tunica muscularis of the homozygous grey and white lambs when compared to normal black lambs.
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